|37418 powers the 17:01 Cardiff Central - Rhymney towards Pontlottyn on August 19th 2019. This complete blue/grey train definitely looks the part. Even here at Pontlottyn vegetation has grown significantly compared with 2005.|
When class 37's finally finished on the Rhymney Valley in South Wales in 2006 I don't think anyone ever imagined that they would be back.
|37421 awaits departure from Carephilly with the 07:24|
Rhymney - Cardiff Central on 20th Aguust 2019.
Fast forward 13 years to 2019 and class 37 hauled commuter trains have been re-introduced between Rhymney and Cardiff Central. The reason is shortage of multiple units while Transport for Wales (TfW) sends its existing stock for PRM (Passengers or Reduced Mobility) upgrades as well as delays with the fleets of new trains which will replace the much derided 'Pacer' units in service in Wales.
Back in the early 2000's EWS provided 3 class 37's which worked a return trip each Monday - Friday from Rhymney to Cardiff (one continuing to Radyr) and returning in the evenings. On Saturdays the locos took charge and ran all the hourly services to Rhymney throughout the day with DMU's supplementing on the shorter services to Bargoed.
|37418 waits to depart Cardiff Queen St on 20th August 2019|
working the 17:43 Rymney - Cardiff.
The operation which has begun in 2019 follows a similar format on weekdays. Two class 37's haul 4 mk2 coaches each between Rhymney and Cardiff on the following trains:
07:24 Rhymney - Cardiff Central (2F15)
07:43 Ryymney - Cardiff Central (2F10)
17:01 Cardiff Central - Rhymney (2R20)
17:46 Cardiff Central - Rhymney (2R24)
Sadly the Saturday 'gala's' of the early 2000's are not being repeated.
|Back on 19th March 2005 EWS 37405 is seen in the same|
spot at Cardiff Queen St. Little has changed here!
Locomotives are being provided by Colas Rail with 37418 and 37421 expected to work the majority of trains. 37025 is currently based at Cardiff as a standby and has seen some use (top and tail with 37421) on the 07:24 Rhymeny - Cardiff before it then works a top and tailed pair of return trips as driver training runs between Cardiff Canton and Rhymney.
|One of my first photos away from the station platform back on 19th March 2005 - 37411 'Scottish Railway Preservation Society' departs from Ystrad Mynach heading south to Cardiff.|
|37025 shuts at Rhymney on 20th August 2019. It will form the 07:24 |
departure for Cardiff Central the following morning. 37025 celebrated its
58th birthday in 2019- is this the oldest diesel locomotive to work
scheduled passenger trains?
Due to the limited work of the class 37's these trains are very difficult to cover- especially if you don't live in South Wales (Chris Davies, who incidentally, has an excellent set of photos- see his Flickr). With these trains providing such a unique opportunity to see class 37's in use it was too tempting not to re-visit this line which holds such good memories of some of my class 37's and thus I made two trips in August to sample the trains, as well as delving into my photo archives from previous visits in the early 2000's.
|37418 approaches Pontlottyn on 30th August 2019 with the 17:01 Cardiff Central - Rhymney. The trains looks great in the landscape but vegetation now leaves only narrow openings to view it!|
|37418 waits between duties at Cardiff Canton. The depot|
can be seen from passing trains on the Cross City line.
Vegetation has shot up right across the route over the last decade and sadly those wanting to re-create many of the scenes from the early 2000's will be disappointed. Vantage points are now very limited and mostly centred around Cardiff Queen St and the opposite end of the line at Pontlottyn. As comparison with my older photos will show (aside from hopefully an improvement in my photography skills over the last 13 years) many locations have changed dramatically - but some rewarding shots are still possible.
|37418 approaches Cardiff Queen Street seen from a nearby car park while working the 07:43 Rhymney - Cardiff on 30th August 2019.|
|37418 passes light engine through Cardiff Central on 30th August working|
an 0Z37 test run via Radyr. Driver training did not run this day.
For those wanting to ride the trains and enjoy the sights and sounds of the class 37 this is also a lot more difficult that in was back in the carefree days of the early 2000's. Once again the issue of droplight windows has been in the spotlight - especially so since Southern Rail was fined £3 million after a passenger was tragically decapitated from a class 442 in South London. As a result, and also to prevent non-automatic slam-doors being left open TfW employs security staff who man every vestibule on these trains. Certainly leaning out of windows like the old days is not an option! Depending on the nature of the security staff it *may* be possible to stand somewhere near an open window, but in my experience passengers will be ushered into the seating areas (even if full) and all windows will be firmly closed after every stop. Once the train becomes so full that standing in the vestibules is no longer avoidable the problem of people standing there seems to subdue! If you want to stand near a window (and don't even think about touching it!) your best bet is to board the train at Cardiff in the evening when it is already full and hope not to get ushered into the seats once it empties out. Sadly you shouldn't expect the security staff to be enthusiast friendly or particularly trained in customer service! However you shouldn't let this put you off- even from well inside the coach the 37's sound fantastic once again powering up the Rhymney Valley!
The TfW class 37 hauled operation will not be around for long. The current contract runs until the end of December but rumours of a possible extension are rife. If you have the chance go now before the winter closes in as these trains will not be around for long!